Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Japanese, Chinese misunderstandings prevent peace

The dispute over Diaoyu Islands escalated after Captain Zhan Qixiong was released, stirring up fury and nationalist emotions among Chinese and Japanese citizens.

An online survey conducted by Southern Daily suggested that 9,495 out of 9,816 netizens believe war is the best way to settle the dispute for good. Meanwhile, a Japanese online survey says almost 70 percent of Japanese deem war as the best solution.

Personally, I am more curious than furious. I wonder why Japan claims Diaoyu Islands as its territory since the islands have been on the Chinese map since the Ming Dynasty for almost over 500 hundred years.

My Japanese friend, Mie Yamazaki, is as confused as I am. “Why does China say that the Senkaku Islands belong to China?” She added that Japan has administered the islands for over 100 years. It seems unsuitable for China to suddenly claim its sovereignty over these islands.

Instead of arguing over who was in the right, we started to look up historical documents in an American-based website, The Mandala Projects.

According to the website, Diaoyu Islands were ceded to Japan as part of Taiwan under the Shimonoseki Treaty after Japan defeated China in 1874 during the First Sino-Japanese War. But after World War II in 1945, all territories Japan got from China, including Taiwan, were supposed to be restored to China according to the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations. But Japan preserved their administration over the islands due to the treaty signed with America in 1970s, in which America guaranteed that Japan would maintain rights over the islands.

Japanese history textbooks neglect that the nation should have returned Diaoyu Islands, and continue to rule the islands under the support of America.  It’s almost impossible for one person to forgive the other if the other refuses to admit the wrongdoings and apologize.

China didn’t ask for war compensation half a century ago, which, as interpreted by most Chinese now, has induced the Prime Minister of Japan’s constant visits to Yasukuni Shrine and the denial of history. “We should learn from mistakes, and never let things end that easily.”Comments such as this penetrate every corner of Chinese cyberspace.

“Japan has provided the most financial aid to help with a new China, though it hasn’t officially said sorry,” Mie remarked. Mie’s remark is similar to the consensus in Japanese forums that Japan has given China a large sum of money every year, which China doesn’t appreciate.  Japan had provided financial help for 30 consecutive years by the means of favorable loans, credit agreements and special interest grants, which is termed “Official Development Aids” (ODA) until this support ended in 2008.

The provision of ODA doesn’t mean that Japan has apologized. But why are some facts missing or less emphasized in our education of both China and Japan? And how can the missing parts lead people to anger, even to the point of death, when interests between the two countries collide?

I will feel much better if the Chinese education system teaches that Japan is doing something to make up for its previous wrongdoings by acts such as providing financial assistance to China. The Chinese, myself included, will stay more cool-headed rather than enraged whenever disputes occur between Japan and China; just as when Chinese people were moved while the Japanese International Search and Rescue Team stood in silent tribute for the dead in the Wenchuan earthquake, they should know that the old Japanese soldiers are expressing their regret unofficially. The Japanese, if the politicians give their citizens access to the real history, will understand their history better and stop issuing every solution with force.

“The media never says anything good toward Chinese,” said my friend Mie. Chinese students in her school are often isolated from Japanese students.

The dispute over the islands, regardless of whether or not  they have rich resources, is about expansion of power and about the pursuits of politicians. And people of the countries receive whatever the politicians and the media offer, carrying nationalistic beliefs until death. We express our opinions based on the history others provide and support their decisions. We are manipulated to believe that beliefs of politicians are decisions made by the people.

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    HS KimOct 19, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Your editorial has some inaccuracies. The japanese government and officials have apologized numerous times over the last few decades. Please note the following link from Wikipedia. This is one of the greatest misperceptions out there and extremely common, but just thought you might be interested to know. . .